‘Karen Read Was Framed’: Murder Case That Divided a Town Kicks Off

Pat Greenhouse/The Boston Globe via Getty Images
Pat Greenhouse/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Karen Read, the Massachusetts woman accused of fatally hitting her police officer boyfriend with an SUV after a night of drinking, is being “framed” for his 2022 death, defense attorneys argued at the start of her murder trial on Monday.

Read, 44, has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder, manslaughter while driving under the influence, and leaving the scene of a crime after her boyfriend, Boston Police Office John O’Keefe, was found dead in a snowbank on January 29, 2022. She faces a life sentence if convicted of the second-degree murder charge.

The case has garnered national media—and sharply divided the Boston suburb of Canton, where O’Keefe was raising his niece and nephew. Prosecutors allege that Read backed her SUV into O’Keefe, a 16-year police veteran, while dropping him off at a friend’s home for an after party in the midst of a blizzard and then cruelly left him to die in the cold. Defense lawyers insist that Read is actually the victim of an elaborate police cover-up.

“Karen Read was framed,” defense attorney David Yannetti told Norfolk Superior Court jurors on Monday during his opening statements. “You will learn, in short, that the police did no real investigation of the case, and you will question why…You will question why they focused solely on Karen Read.”

“Karen Read was a convenient outsider,” he added.

Judge Deals Slain Boston Cop’s GF a Blow in Her Murder Conspiracy Case

Yannetti has previously argued in court documents that O’Keefe was fatally beaten and left on a fellow police officer’s front lawn. On Monday, he pointed the finger at the lead detective on the case, Michael Proctor, who he claims “focused exclusively” on his client throughout the investigation and even texted his friends the day of the murder saying he hoped Read “would kill herself.” (Proctor is currently the subject of an internal Massachusetts State Police investigation into his handling of the Read case.)

Proctor “told his high school buddies that he was searching for nude photos of Karen Read,” Yannetti said, “His fingerprints are all over the Commonwealth’s evidence.”

“Michael Proctor predetermined the outcome of this case,” he later added.

Meanwhile, prosecutors allege that about six hours after Read hit O’Keefe, she returned to the scene with two other women. When first responders showed up, Read confessed, prosecutor Adam Lally said during his opening statement.

“The defendant stated repeatedly, ‘I hit him, I hit him, I hit him,’” Lally told jurors.

O’Keefe was ultimately pronounced dead at a local hospital. An autopsy later concluded that he died from hypothermia and head trauma. Lally told jurors that O’Keefe’s DNA was found on Read’s taillight, and one of his hairs was found on her bumper.

“You are the sole arbiters of the facts of this case, you are the ones who find the facts—I will reiterate that: facts—of what the evidence demonstrates in this case,” Lally told the jury. “The defendant struck John O’Keefe with her car, knocking him back on the ground, striking his head on the ground, causing bleeding in the brain and then leaving him there for several hours in a blizzard with temperatures in the teens, wind swirling around, snow piling up on his body.”

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